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The Lede, By David Royse – How the Internet Will Be Delivered to Everyone From Space. And the importance of play for kids

The Lede, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018
By David Royse

Happy Lunar New Year. It’s the Year of the Dog. Every year should be the Year of the Dog.

Ever not been able to find an Internet connection when you needed one? It’s rare for most of us in an extremely connected country like ours, where internet penetration is above 75 percent. For three quarters of us, getting on the internet is usually a pretty standard part of our day. There are some exceptions – when you’re riding in someone’s car, when you’re in a very rural area, when weather has knocked out some infrastructure. If you have a broadband provider that seems to have connectivity issues. Or if you live in much of the rest of the world. In Africa, only about 30 percent of people can generally find an Internet connection.

What if the internet were everywhere? Almost literally everywhere – beaming into every little tucked away back alley in the developing world, on top of the most rural mountains, out in the middle of the ocean? Available to everyone, whether they want it or not, no matter where they are. Digital divide? That wouldn’t be a thing.

That’s part of the future envisioned by a handful of companies, including Space-X, which has a launch set for Sunday that is part of this bold vision for a globally connected future.

Space-X’s Falcon 9 launch tentatively targeted for Sunday will carry up an Earth-observation satellite for Spain. But two other satellite prototypes on board are what’s really interesting about this weekend’s launch. Elon Musk’s company is proposing to put thousands of satellites in orbit and use them to beam the internet around the world, promising to connect hundreds of millions of Americans, including many in places currently without broadband, and potentially more far-reaching, billions of people around the globe.

Space-X isn’t the only company hoping to do this – it’s just the only one launching a rocket this weekend. Three other companies, OneWebSpace Norway and Telesatare also hoping to use satellites to create universal internet coverage of the Earth.

OneWeb Chairman Greg Wyler says half the world has no reliable internet access. Half.

“OneWeb is on a mission to bridge the digital divide by 2027,” Wyler says on the company’s website. When Wyler announced a key infusion of money from several corporate partners just over a year ago, he called it “an exciting day for those who hunger for the information, freedom, and economic participation the web enables, particularly in rural areas, and especially for the two million schools without broadband.”

Several people have noted that there are two types of school kids in the world – those who have internet access and those who don’t – and the likelihood that those who don’t may fall behind seems pretty high.

“We can connect every school to the Internet by 2022,” Wyler says.

Here’s Greg Wyler talking about OneWeb’s effort.

Space-X got a big boost in its plan this week from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who recommended that the agency approve Space-X’s proposal, known as “Constellation” for the ring of satellites it envisions.

“To bridge America’s digital divide, we’ll have to use innovative technologies,” Pai said in a statement. . “SpaceX’s application—along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the U.S. market for non-geostationary satellite orbit systems—involves one such innovation.

“Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach,” Pai continued. “And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available.”

Here’s more on Space-X’s future plans from Florida Today


Yesterday, we mourned the victims of the latest school shooting, the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School near Fort Lauderdale. For many, especially in South Florida, that mourning continues, and will for some time.

I urged a look at new ideas for avoiding and mitigating school violence, possibly through tech.

That’s a natural reaction for many of us – every time there’s a mass murder of children, we think about what we can do to keep our kids safe.

But I can’t help but wonder today whether we should also think about what we might do to keep our kids (collectively, not just our own flesh and blood children, but any and all of our children) from sliding into the abyss, the unimaginable place where cold-blooded murder, whether it is of one person or many, is even something that enters the mind as a plausible action.

Do we not bear some responsibility for those in our midst who we lose not to being murdered but to becoming murderers? I’m not a mental health expert, and I don’t know what influences we might have on those battling these kinds of demons. And I don’t have any answers for you today – though it may be something worth looking into soon.

I thought back this morning, however, to a Ted Radio Hour show I listened to some time back. It’s about, in a narrow sense, making sure children can play. But in a broader sense, it’s about treating children well – because when they are not, bad things happen.

If you have time, I recommend to you this 2015 Ted Radio Hour with Stuart Brown, who started studying play after learning it was something many murderers didn’t get to do as children. To my mind, it sounds too simplistic – and I’d wager that even if we make sure all children can play, murders won’t stop. But I want to redouble my efforts to make sure my kid gets time to be a carefree kid, just playing.

Here’s the Ted Radio Hour show



A company called Next Future Transportation just unveiled its idea for how some of us might be getting around eventually – they want to put us in little pods and shuttle us around. It appears they’ll have bars in them, though, so that’s kind of cool. The company also seems to think we’re all going to become weird gelatinous forms soon.


Tallahassee to DC: A non-stop flight from Tallahassee International Airport to Washington D.C. started Thursday. The daily service on American Airlines goes to Reagan (DCA). City of Tallahassee

Allegiant is adding five new seasonal routes from Destin-Fort Walton (VPS). USA Today

Spirit adding Columbus, O. (CMH) service to Florida Columbus Biz Journal

WOW “pausing” Miami service. The Icelandic budget airline started Miami (MIA) – Reykjavik (RKV) service last April. It will halt it this April. USA Today

Nashville to Atlanta: Used to be if you needed to fly Nashville (BNA) to Atlanta (ATL) you were going on Delta like just about everybody else flying to Atlanta. Starting in August, you’ll have another option. Southwest. The Tennesseean


New Jersey’s new governor announces a new plan to bring more rail cars back into service. Make New Jersey Transit great again. Bigboard



Yesterday, I told you about how Virgin and Boom want to put a supersonic jet back into commercial aviation. I have since discovered that at least two other efforts are solidly underway in this regard, from Spike Aerospace and Aerion, which recently announced a partnership with Lockheed. And, even though three private efforts seem to be doing well, the Trump Administration wants to help these companies eliminate the sonic boom.



There’s a potentially exciting story in healthcare news today – a possible breakthrough on Alzheimer’s prevention, though it’s a complicated issue involving an enzyme that plays a role in the creation of certain damaging plaques in the brain – but with some details that make it not so simple to just remove the enzyme.

The story is in Forbes, outlining a journal article published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Still, even with the caveat that the issue is complicated and the research is still early, the first sentence from Forbes certainly raises hopes:

“Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute have demonstrated that gradual reduction of an enzyme that contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease can halt the disease’s development and reverse some its effects.”


Politicians in Washington Want to do Something About the Opioid Crisis. They Don’t Know What It Is. From Axios


The vacuum cleaner company is working on electric vehicles. Slate

Twitter, Youtube, Amazon, Verizon:
Are competing  for the streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. Recode

Will reportedly fold AmazonFresh into its Prime Now Program.Grub Street


On the future of car design

What the Home of the Future Will Look Like

How lawmakers and regulators are dealing with innovation

Vermont Lawmakers Want Airbnb Hosts to Register

If the bill is passed as written, Vermont would become the first state in the country to develop a statewide registry for people who rent out their homes with companies like Airbnb. VPR

That’s it for this work week.

Enjoy the Lunar New Year, and the weekend.

In looking around the Internet for information about the effort to put thousands of satellites in orbit to deliver internet to the whole world, I discovered a disturbingly large number of web sites dedicated to raising questions about whether satellites even exist at all. What? Who knew?

With that, take us out Flat Earth Man

If you know someone else who likes reading about efforts to solve problems by looking things in a new way, forward this email to them so they can subscribe too.

Want to read past editions of The Lede? Find them all here

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About David Royse

David Royse
David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

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